Some notes from Thrillerfest 2012
Lets start by saying that Bob is a charmed one. When we got to the airport to go home he decided to try to get an earlier flight. He got lucky, and not only got an earlier flight, but they gave him a first class seat…on them. Me, well, there was no earlier flight and Bob proceeded to send me an email saying he was home safe and sound and Cool Gus was snoring at his feet, while I was still in NYC waiting to board my plane. Of course, then I had to deal with a scary landing when the pilot overshot the runway and minutes before we were to touch down, the plane went straight back up into the sky. There was a collective “gasp” on the plane as everyone just stared out the window. One of my favorite few paragraphs I ever wrote in a book came from Jane Doe’s Return from the lead female character: Shauna Morgan. I was thinking exactly what this character was during this terrifying experience. Here it is:
Shauna Morgan gasped, then gripped the armrests, grateful no one sat in the seat next to her. The plane shook as the ground appeared to rise up from nowhere and greet the spinning wheels. The ones she prayed had been deployed, released, or whatever.
She hated flying, but had to look out the window. It seemed everyone who feared flying had to fixate their stare on the approaching ground. Like watching yourself plummet to your death would somehow make your trip better.
This year’s Thrillerfest was quite different than last year, at least for us. First, Bob kept saying to me, “I don’t even feel like I’m at a conference.” This was in part because we had business meeting after business meeting from the moment we landed until he ditched me for an earlier flight home. 2011 Thrillerfest we stood in long lines trying to get some face time with reps from Amazon, Audible, and other companies. This year we had meetings and conference calls set up with those we needed to talk with. Last year we felt like the pink elephant in the room. Everyone was whispering about what we and others were doing at the water cooler, but this year, things were more out in the open. But…
In many cases it was still business as usual. One of the things that really struck me was some people’s attitude about AgentFest. I struck up a conversation with a couple of different people during this 3 hour time frame and one woman asked me, “If you don’t get an agent then how are you ever going to get published?” When I told her my story she responded with, “That doesn’t count.” I was a little speechless.
One thing that was very exciting to me was the introduction to some very exciting new technology. Bob and I sat with some pretty savvy people our first night in NYC and we’re very excited that Cool Gus Publishing will be part of a launch of a new Credit Card App based program. I can’t go into all the details as it hasn’t been officially announced, but very exciting times indeed. The possibilities of what the future will bring for books is endless…think disposable eReaders loaded with 10 titles of your choice at the airport for only…10$.
Bob also did a test run with a virtual digital signing through Audible. This was pretty cool and I was excited they let me sit in on it. Bob sat in front of a computer with the web cam on, and people came into a chat room. The people running the show would move fans into the “green room” where they got to ask Bob a question. They could either activate their webcam or just type in the chat room. Bob then answered the questions by speaking through the webcam. If the fan activated their webcam, Bob would then sign a machine that would take his signature and place it on a special card that was then sent to the fan. The fan also got a screen shot of their time with the author and they also got their audio and video feed of their time with the author. That right there is cool. Its like the next best thing to being there. We will be adding the video feed from this demo later this week to the side bar of this blog.
The cool thing is the author never has to leave his/her home to connect with their readers. This is some fabulous technology and I’m looking forward to see how all this grows and develops.
Bob and I had another first as well. We did a workshop together. Well, Bob did most of it. It was interesting. The opinions run very strong when it comes to publishing. There are two things that people keep asking us: what advice do we have and how do we market?
The first question is pretty easy. Everyone has their own unique experience and situation, therefore there is no one way to go. Listen. Learn. And do what makes sense for your situation. But the key here is to have an open mind. Many of us get either two narrowly focused on one thing, or we’re all over the place doing everything. The second question is something we dealt with a lot this past week. Whenever Bob and I get asked this we kind of look at each other and then say, “discoverablity.” The problem is how do you get discovered? If we knew the super magic secret handshake, we’d be using it and we wouldn’t tell you. Bob says write another better book. Then I go into the schpeal about keywords, search engines, metadata, pricing strategies, turning over metadata and keywords, covers, titles, more metadata, coding and retooling books with updated technology, new buy links… the list is endless (and now Bob is complaining I gave him another splitting headache).
Discoverability happens in two ways. It happens by what you do and it happens by what your readers say about you. You can do everything in terms of marketing yourself and maximizing your reach and metadata, but if your readers don’t spread word of mouth, not much of a chance in going viral. It’s all about the reader. Writers produce the product (story). Readers consumer the product (story).